Stop Spying on Your Employees! How to Manage Employee Productivity Without Using Spyware

Stop Spying on Your Employees!       How to Manage Employee Productivity Without Using Spyware

Stop Spying on Your Employees! 

As the world has transitioned into work-from-anywhere solutions, one thing that we commonly get asked is about employee monitoring, and what we call is just: Spyware.

And you hear these things all the time about systems that you can install and employees’ desktop, it takes a screen grab every X interval and then you have this whole blog of what they’ve done on their computer for that entire day…

First off: these tools are terrible! You don’t want to install them! Don’t install them. You’re gonna hire somebody and now go back and review everybody’s screen grabs at like some orderly pace to figure out if they’re working or not? I mean what kind of time waste are you talking about? Something that’s supposed to improve your productivity is now going to require additional labor in order to monitor whether people are productive in the first place? This is crazy talk! 

I have a friend at a Big 4 accounting firm -or maybe it’s a Big 3 accounting firm now- and she went out years ago and she bought a mouse jiggler. A mouse jiggler, it’s like it’s a piece of hardware that plugs in between the mouse and the computer to shake the cursor to make sure that the system knows that she’s “still working!” And why does she need this? Well if she’s doing a financial audit she likes paper. She prints paper out and does her work on paper because it’s easier for her to audit and review the books, and then she goes back to Excel. But if she’s not shaking the mouse at some interval, it doesn’t look like she’s working.

Spyware applications, screen-grab applications: these tools are terrible. They don’t tell you what you want.

What do you want to know? You want to know: Are your employees productive? Are they using the systems you’re paying for? If you’re paying for a CRM, are they putting data in the CRM? Screenshotting their desktop at some interval is not going to tell you whether or not data is going in the CRM in a way that’s actually measurable for you or good for your business. 

Are they talking on the phone? Are they responding to emails? Are they working in your applications? And also really importantly, now you have a way that you can stack rank and organize your departments. 

What do we really care about? Well if you’ve got a Customer Service Department, what are the KPIs that you’re tracking? Where do your employees sit within those KPI’s? Do your employees at the bottom understand where they are at the performance curve with the rest of the team? Same thing in sales: sales is usually easier to do because you’re just tracking sales. How much money are they making? 

But you can do this across a lot of different departments in your company. What do you care about? You care about the KPI that actually matters to that employee’s function, you care if they are following and working within a normalized productivity? And then you want to know whether or not you have outliers. You want to know who your top performers are, you want to know who your people in the middle of the pack are, and you want to know the people at the bottom of the pack. 

And why do you want these things? You want to give them an opportunity to be coached, you want to help them improve, you want to see if they can increase, and of course if they aren’t and they’re not a good fit then you want to take other measures in other actions with them. But none of this involves spying on your employees! This does not involve blocking people’s ability to watch YouTube or go to ESPN, or do you-name-it other things that people immediately come in and say: “Hey I’ve got to stop this behavior because it’s stealing my employees’ productivity.” You don’t care about those things! 

You care about what their productivity actually is, you need to give your employees time to mentally decompress. We all work in high-stress environments, these are knowledge-based workers. People need the ability to decompress! 

If I can’t watch cat videos on the Internet in between really stressful conference calls for provisioning, I would not be a functioning person for the rest of the day. So what do I do? I find some cat video: it’s funny, I laugh at it and I move on with my day. 

That’s what you care about: you care about your employees’ health and their ability to actually work. 

So if you’re thinking about installing some sort of employee monitoring system, give us a call at We can walk you through the pros and cons of what’s available in the market and what’s actually right for your business, and how do you get to what you really want to know which is: are your employees productive? And where do they actually stack up within the KPI’s matter for their department.